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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 14:9



Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is good will.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Fools make a mock at sin - And only fools would do so. But he that makes a sport of sinning, will find it no sport to suffer the vengeance of an eternal fire. Some learned men by their criticisms have brought this verse into embarrassments, out of which they were not able to extricate it. I believe we shall not come much nearer the sense than our present version does.

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These files are public domain.

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Fools make a mock - The verb in the Heb. is singular, the noun plural. The King James Version assumes that the number is altered to individualize the application of the maxim. Others translate it: “Sin mocks the fools who are its victims,” i. e., disappoints and ruins them; or, “A sin-offering does but mock the worshippers when they are willfully wicked:” they expect to gain God‘s favor, and do not gain it. So taken it becomes parallel to Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 21:7.

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These files are public domain.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 14:9

Fools make a mock at sin.

Thinking lightly of sin

Breathing an atmosphere tainted with moral evil, seeing and hearing sin in our daily walks, we are in no small danger of overlooking its malignity. The word “sin” is to many obscure. It is seldom used in common life. It belongs to theology and the pulpit. According to Scripture there is nothing so evil, so deformed, so ruinous, as sin. To do wrong is more pernicious than to incur all the calamities which nature or the evil the heart, this is human malice can heap upon us. Sin, violated duty, the evil of the heart, this is the only evil of which Scripture takes account. It was from this that Christ came to redeem us. Scripture leads us to connect with sin or wrong-doing the ideas of evil, wretchedness, and debasement, more strongly than with anything else.

I. Our natures testify that sin is the chief of evils. Evil has various forms, these set in two divisions, natural and moral; pain or suffering springing from outward conduct and events, independent of our will: and evil related to character and conduct, and inspired by the will. Vice is manifestly more to be dreaded than pain. All will agree that excellence of character is the supreme good, and that baseness of soul and of action involves something worse than suffering. Our very nature teaches the doctrine of Christianity, that sin or moral evil ought of all evils to inspire most abhorrence and fear.

II. Experience testifies that sin is the chief of evils. Though sin sometimes prospers, and never meets its full retribution on earth, yet, on the whole, it produces more present suffering than all things else; so that experience warns us against sin or wrong-doing as the chief evil we can incur. To do wrong is to inflict the surest injury on our own peace.

III. The miseries of disobedience to conscience and God are not exhausted in this life. Sin deserves, calls for, and will bring down, future, greater misery. This Christianity, and this nature, teaches. Some, indeed, assert that punishment is confined to the present state; that in changing worlds we shall change our characters, and that moral evil is to be buried with the body in the grave. But to suppose no connection to exist between the present and the future character is to take away the use of the present state. It is even plainly implied in Scripture, that we shall suffer much more from sin, evil tempers, irreligion, in the future world, than we suffer here. I have spoken of the pains and penalties of moral evil or of wrongdoing, in the world to come. How long they will endure I know not. (W. E. Channing, D.D.)

The danger of making light of sin

I. The foolishness in itself. Sin is really a very terrible thing: nothing is so terrible. Ask its slave and its victim. If you look from its work within you to its work around you, is the foolishness much less manifest? What but sin is the cause of all the misery around us?

II. The consequences of mocking at sin.

1. The effects of this mocking on the mocker himself. Nothing can be so deadening to the soul. Because laughing at sin relieves us of fear of it. Such mocking is altogether alien from, and contrary to, the mind of Christ. Moreover, it must quench the Spirit. It must kill the first beginnings of repentance.

2. Consequences upon others. There is nothing more corrupting of others than this mocking at sin. Such men may be found doing their deadly work everywhere, and in every rank of society. The young are their peculiar victims. The mocker’s work is often irretrievable. No one who has led another to laugh at sin can ever calculate or undo the work he may have done.


1. To fly from the very first beginnings of this sin, whether in yourself or in others.

2. Understand the real value of that in which you are tempted to join.

3. If you are tempted to envy sinners their laugh, or to shrink from their mockeries, seek the defence, relief, and strengthening of prayer. (Bishop S. Wilberforce.)

Mockers at sin

Of two kinds. Those who ridicule all fear of offending God. Those who will not go this length, but make sins matters of jest rather than of conscience.

I. What sin is. The transgression of a reasonable, holy, and righteous law.

II. The consequences of making a mock at sin. The general consequence of this practice must be the prevailing of sin and unrighteousness in the world. The passions of mankind lead them by a strong propensity to what is forbidden, and all the fences and guards of religion are found little enough to restrain our compliance. Whatever weakens these restraints must, in the same proportion, occasion the increase of all ungodliness. What can more effectually contribute to this evil than making a mock at sin? The natural reluctances of reason and conscience will generally guard men against open scoffers, who ridicule all fear of God, all restraints of virtue and religion. But there are other mockers, whose influence is more to be feared. Men who will permit you to keep a reserve of religion, will pretend to agree with you in detesting some crimes, but persuade you to think others only ludicrous amusements, which it is weakness and superstition to abstain from yourselves, and a morose, unconversable severity to censure in your neighbours. This is a temptation to which we are exceedingly open. How much we are obliged in duty, and concerned in interest, to correct and oppose this vain, irreligious humour of mocking at sin! To check this growing evil, let us reflect on that holy and dreadful presence before whom we stand. The eyes of our Judge are always over us. (J. Rogers, D.D.)

Mocking at sin

Sin may briefly be described as the wilful violation of the moral law of God, made known to us in conscience and in revelation. Describe some of the forms under which men evidence their mocking contempt of the power and design of sin. To the grossest phases of this sin we need scarcely do more than allude. Against the more specious forms of this sin there is need of warning.

1. A man may, without directly denying the evil of sin, yet treat it with most unseemly levity.

2. Some men are in the habit of speaking of sin, that is, of the popular and less flagrant kinds of sin, as being indeed, in a modified sense, an evil; but as one which is inherent in, and inseparable from, humanity, which must therefore be submitted to in part, as a man would endure the enforced society of a disagreeable companion, whom circumstances would not permit him to discard.

3. Men mock at sin when they bear false witness concerning the fruits and effects of sin in themselves and others. If sin be a man’s worst enemy, and a very powerful and malignant enemy, he who should mock at it, and deride it, must be acting the part of a vain, senseless, and presumptuous braggart. No man can really believe sin to be a matter for laughter. From all irreverence, and an unholy mirth in relation to sin, may God deliver us! (G. W. Brameld, M.A.)

The folly of mocking at sin

I. What is it to mock at sin? Sin is the transgression of the law; doing what God forbids, or omitting to do what He commands. The term “mock,” as applied to the law of God, may include ridiculing, trifling with its authority and sanctions, or palliating and excusing the breach of it.

1. There are some who scoff, openly profane, and set at defiance the law of God. Of these there are two classes, the one urged by their sensual appetites, the other by their intellectual pride. There are others who see the necessity of a certain attention to moral conduct, but look with a sullen, contemptuous, sceptical eye upon revelation.

2. There are some who mock at sin by “ trifling” with it. They suffer almost anything to set aside obedience to God; they expose themselves unnecessarily to temptation; they frequent companies and places, involve themselves in employments, which are likely to lead them to sin, and yet mock at the idea of danger from them. They do not give the law of God, in reference to the regulation of their daily conduct, a thought either one way or the other.

3. There are others who may be said to mock at sin by “excusing and palliating it.” They contend that there is more good than evil in the world. They think the gospel dispensation has lowered the requirements of the law.

II. The folly of such mockers. What justifies ridicule, trifling, and palliation, and does this apply to sin?

1. We ridicule what it is beneath argument to confute. Ridicule is, at all times, a dangerous weapon, seldom befitting the spirit of a real Christian. Absurdity is the object of ridicule. But what is there of absurdity connected with the law of God, that we should laugh at the breach of it? There is something more specious in the mockery of intellectual pride at the transgression of God’s law; because we are, from the depravity of our nature, less susceptible of the enormity of spiritual sins than of sins of the flesh. Ambition and pride, for instance, with the world give a dignity to the character, where drunkenness would excite disgust.

2. Where is the sense, or wisdom, of trifling with sin? Has the breach, or observance, of God’s law so little to do with our happiness or misery, as really to be scarcely worth our serious attention? Are the consequences of sin unimportant?

3. The folly of excusing or palliating sin is no less manifest. It lessens the abhorrence of sin in our mind. By having low views of sin, we adopt low standards of duty, low aims at usefulness, low views of the holiness of God. To palliate sin is to destroy the harmony of the Divine attributes, to rob Christ of His glory, Christianity of its motives, and to beguile us into a fatal neglect, or even denial of its fundamental doctrines. By palliating sin we also encourage the commission of sin in others; as many a parent has found by bitter experience, in screening children from proper correction, from a foolish regard to the feelings of the moment When shall we learn that every deviation from the will of God is a loss of happiness? (B. E. Nicholls, M.A.)

The fool and his sport

A man may be a fool in two ways: by knowing too little, or too much.

I. The fool.. Every wicked man is a fool. See this by comparing their properties.

1. It is a fool’s property to have no foresight of future things.

2. To affect things hurtful to himself.

3. To prefer trifles and toys before matters of worth and weight. The fool will not give his bauble for the king’s exchequer. Illustrate by the prodigal son.

4. To run on his course with precipitation. As these fools are many, so they are of many kinds. There is the sad fool and the glad fool, the haughty fool and the naughty fool.

II. The sport of the fool. The fathers call “making a mock at sin,” the lowest degree of sin, and the very threshold of hell. Consider the object of the fool’s sport--sin.

1. Sin, which is contrary to goodness, and though to man’s corrupt nature pleasing, yet even abhorred of those sparks and cinders which the rust of sin hath not quite eaten out of our nature as the creation left it. It is a contra-natural thing to “make a mock at sin.”

2. Sin, which sensibly brings on present judgments.

3. Sin, which, if it bring not present judgments, is the more fearful. The less punishment wickedness receives here, the more is behind.

4. Sin, that shall at last be laid heavy on the conscience.

5. Sin, which provokes God to anger.

6. Sin, which God so loathed that He could not serve His own elect because of it, but by killing His own Son.

7. Sin, that shall be punished by death--the second death. But I cease urging this terror, and would rather persuade you by the love of God. (T. Adams.)

The folly of mocking at sin

I. What is meant by making a mock at sin. There are three sorts of sinners who, in their several degrees, may justly be charged with this guilt.

1. Those who esteem it a piece of courage to despise all religion, and a greatness of mind to deride all the obligations of virtue.

2. Those who do not in words, but do in deeds, bring contempt upon religion. This practical insult upon religion; this contempt of virtue and goodness in men’s lives and actions is really, in the sight of God, a making a mock at sin.

3. Entertaining so slight an opinion of the evil and danger of sin, as makes men who are not entirely profligate, yet content themselves with distant resolutions of future repentance, and in the meantime speak peace to themselves in the practice of unrighteousness, or in the enjoyment of unlawful pleasures

II. Upon what grounds or reasons men are tempted to be guilty of the several degrees of this vice.

1. As to those profane spirits who esteem it a mark of courage to despise all religion, the only ground these have to go upon is atheism and infidelity. The only foundation this kind of mockers build upon is the hope that there will be no future state, no judgment to come.

2. Those who pretend to believe a God, and yet live viciously, flatter themselves with a notion that sin is not of so dangerous a nature as the preachers of the gospel represent it to be.

3. Those who are really sensible of the necessity of true repentance and amendment, and yet at the present speak peace to themselves in the practice of unrighteousness, can only find a foundation in an artificial design of securing to themselves both worlds, and of ingrossing more happiness than either God or Nature designed them. This is a mocking of God, but more truly a mocking or deceiving of themselves.

III. How weak all those grounds really are, and how great is the folly of acting on them. As to the first kind of profane mockers, what is the state of such persons when God takes away their soul? Can they be sure there is no God, and no future state? The hardiest unbeliever never yet pretended to have demonstration in this case. As to the second kind, those who make profession, but live viciously, on a general expectation that sin is less dangerous, and God more merciful than is usually represented, God is not in the least likely to be imposed upon by an outward profession of service, which even an earthly superior would with indignation reject. As to the third kind, those who indulge at present, with promise to themselves of amendment by and by; it may be said that this folly is playing with death and sporting with destruction. It is the folly of letting slip opportunities which may never be retrieved. It is the folly of provoking God to cut us off in His wrath. It is the folly of incapacitating a man’s self more and more for the doing of that which yet is of absolute necessity not to be left undone. The longer any man continues in sin, the more difficult it becomes for him to leave it off. He grows hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (S. Clarke, D.D.)

The evil of sin

I. In its nature. Its evil is most strikingly represented by contrasting it with the character of God, against whom it is committed; and with the law of God, of which it is the transgression.

1. God is a Being of the most perfect excellence, possessed of every attribute that can excite the admiration, love, and esteem of His intelligent creatures. Holiness is the chief and brightest attribute of the Godhead. Sin aims at the destruction of all the perfections of God.

2. The law of God is a transcript of His perfections. It is not only holy and just, but likewise good, calculated to promote the happiness of those who are subject to its authority. Sin is the transgression of the law, and therefore must contain in it a malignity and vileness proportioned to the purity and excellence of the law of God. Sin is the greatest of evils because it is opposite to the greatest good.

II. In its effects. Within us and around us we contemplate the baneful consequences of this mortal evil. No sorrow or misery of any kind can be named that does not spring from this root of bitterness.

1. See mischief done to the angels who kept not their first estate.

2. Man, formed after his Maker’s image, is likewise become a fallen and sinful creature. The calamities of earth bear marks of man’s fatal apostasy from God. The whole creation groaneth.

3. The effects of sin are even yet more serious in a future and eternal state.

III. The views which persons in different situations entertain concerning sin. These differ according to their different moral characters. The more profligate a man becomes, the less evil he perceives in sin. The purer a man is the clearer and deeper are his convictions of the guilt and danger of transgressing the law of God. (David Black.)

The folly of sinners in making a mock at sin

I. The character of wicked and ungodly men. The phrase “making a mock” sometimes signifies an abusing of others by violent and lewd actions; sometimes an exposing of men to shame and dishonour; sometimes an imposing upon the credulity of others, things that seem incredible and impossible; sometimes it is taken for a failing in our promises. Two other acceptations that are more to the present purpose.

1. The word “mock” is taken for scoffing, or bitter taunting at others (Luke 23:11; Hebrews 11:36).

2. Mocking may be taken for slighting, and making no account of; looking upon things or persons as trivial and inconsiderable.

II. The censure passed upon them. They are “fools” who make a mock at sin.

1. They are fools who make a mock at other men’s sins, so as to turn them into matter of jest and raillery. Consider what an accursed, horrid thing it is to tempt others to sin only that thou mayest afterwards make sport with them, and raise a scene of mirth out of the ruin of their souls. How desperately impious, wicked wretches they are who sin only to make others sport.

2. They are fools who make a mock at their own sins, so as to think the commission of them but a slight, inconsiderable matter. This will appear from three things. Slight provocations and easy temptations are sufficient to make them rush boldly into the commission of sin. It is very hard to work these men into any true sorrow or compunction for their sins. If they are moved at all with these things; yet they think that a slight and formal repentance will suffice to make amends for all. What is it that induceth and persuadeth wicked men to make so light of their sins?

Two answers:

1. Because they see so few instances of God’s dread wrath and vengeance executed on sinners in this life; and those rare ones, that are extant and visible, they impute rather to chance than to the retribution of Divine justice.

2. And because it is assumed that God cannot be affected with any real injury, for, as He is not benefited by our service, so He is not wronged by our iniquities. The great and inexcusable folly of making light of sin cannot be surpassed. (E. Hopkins, D.D.)

The conduct of the mocker

1. It involves impiety. To mock at sin is to despise God’s holiness, to set at nought His authority, to abuse God’s goodness, to disregard and slight God’s glory, to make light of God’s curse and threatened vengeance; which implies a denial of God’s truth, and a scornful defiance of God’s power.

2. It involves cruelty. There breathes not on earth a more inhuman, a more iron-hearted monster, than the man who “makes a mock at sin.”

3. And such mockery is most infatuated. Sin is the evil that is ruining the poor sinner himself--hurrying him to perdition. (R. Wardlaw, D.D.)

The folly of mocking at religion

I. Prove that the name of fools is due to those who mock at sin. There are three ways whereby wicked men seek to justify themselves. By laying the blame of all their evil actions, either upon the fatal necessity of all events, the unavoidable frailty of human nature, or the impossibility of keeping the laws of heaven. These plausible pretences are worthless, and those who plead them are thus declared to be “fools.”

II. Make particular impeachment of their folly, because they make a mock at sin. This is proved because--

1. This mocking argues the highest degree of wickedness; and--

2. Betrays the greatest weakness of judgment, and want of consideration. If to sin be folly, to make a mock of it is little short of madness.

The folly is seen in view of--

1. Whom they provoke, even the Governor of the world.

2. Whom the injury redounds to.

3. There can be no imaginable consideration thought on which might look like a plausible temptation to it. What is it which the persons who despise religion, and laugh at everything serious, propose to themselves as the reasons for what they do? (Bp. Stillingfleet.)


I. Who are those who make a mock at sin?

1. The man who openly glories in his own wickedness.

2. The man who winks at, or smiles graciously on, the evil deeds of other men, in business, politics, or social life.

3. Those who mock at the reprovers of sin.

4. He who leads others into sin, or encourages others to abide in it. Every man makes a mock at sin who, either in his religious creed, or by his daily conduct, shows that he regards sin as a trifle. If you would understand why God denounces sin as something terrible and monstrous, you must observe its awful consequences, inquiring not merely what sin is, but what sin has done and will do. Sin is a disease of the soul; a paralysis that weakens a leprosy that pollutes, a plague that tortures, a pestilence that destroys the whole spirit within us.

II. Why are such mockers fools? To make a mock at a thing is, in a way, either to treat it or regard it as of little moment. And if the thing is very mighty or great, either in itself or in its influences, such mockery must be foolish. (C. Wadsworth, D.D.)

The folly of mocking at sin

I. They are fools who make a mock at other men’s sins. Sins which are open and going beforehand unto judgment, are but too often made the occasion of mirth and scoffing. Wine is a mocker, and the man overtaken with it is the butt of his companion’s ridicule. Violation of chastity is the chosen theme of many thoughtless persons’ merriment. The monstrous liar finds many ready to draw him out, that they may laugh at his folly in supposing they will believe his incredible fictions. God looks on all, and says the mockers are fools, for that which they laugh at is no jesting matter, either in its nature or in its consequences; and let those who have been accustomed even to smile at the sins of others, ponder--

1. What every sin is;

2. What every sin deserves.

II. They are fools who make a mock at sin in themselves, so as to think lightly of it, and treat its commission as an inconsiderable matter.

1. He is a fool who mocks at his sin, taking up a certain guilt on the hope of an uncertain repentance.

2. Supposing you were infallibly certain that repentance would be given, you would still be a fool in mocking at your sin, and going on in it m hope of repentance. For what is repentance? Not an easy, soft balm to the conscience, but the sword of the Spirit cutting into the heart, and piercing even to the dividing asunder of joints and marrow.

3. They are fools who make light of their sins, hoping they will be pardoned, for in so doing they mock at Christ’s sufferings. (G. Innes, M.A.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 14:9". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"A trespass-offering mocketh fools; But among the upright there is good will."

"A trespass-offering (or any kind of worship) mocks all worshippers who are willfully wicked. Expecting God's favor, they do not get it."[11] In the second clause, the American Standard Version marginal reference changes `there is good will' to `there is favor of God.'

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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Fools make a mock at sin,.... At sinful actions, their own or others; they make light of them, a jest of them, call evil good, and good evil; take pleasure in doing them themselves, and in those that do them; yea, sport themselves with the mischief that arises from them unto others; they make a mock at reproofs for them, and scoff at those that instruct and rebuke them; and laugh at a future state, and an awful judgment they are warned of, and in a scoffing manner say, "where is the promise of his coming?" Some, as Aben Ezra observes, render it "a sin offering"; and interpret it of the sin offerings and sacrifices under the law, as derided by wicked men; but may be better applied to the sin offering or sacrifice of Christ, who made his soul an offering for sin, to make satisfaction and atonement for the sins of his people; this is mocked at by false teachers, who deny it; and is exposed to derision and contempt by the Papists, by their bloodless sacrifice of the mass, and by their merits and works of supererogation, which they prefer to the sacrifice and satisfaction of Christ. The words may be rendered, "sin makes a mock of fools"F8אוילים יליץ אשם φρονας χλευαζει πλημμελεια, Aquila & Theodotion in Drusius; "delictum illudit fatuos", Gejerus. ; it deceives them, it promises them pleasure, or profit, or honour, but gives them neither, but all the reverse;

but among the righteous there is favour: they enjoy the favour of God and man; or "there is good will"F9רצון "benevoleatia", Montanus, Baynus, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus. , good will towards men; they are so far from making a mock at sin, and taking delight in the mischief that comes by it to others, that they are willing to do all good offices unto men, and by love to serve their friends and neighbours: or "there is acceptance"F11"Acceptatio", Cocceius, Gussetius. ; they are accepted with God upon the account of the sin offering, sacrifice, and satisfaction of Christ, which fools mock and despise.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Fools make a mock at f sin: but among the righteous [there is] favour.

(f) Does not know the grievousness of it, nor God's judgments against the same.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Fools make a mock at sin — or, “Sin deludes fools.”

righteous … favour — that is, of God, instead of the punishment of sin.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

9 The sacrificial offering of fools mocketh;

But between upright men there is good understanding

We may not give to the Hiph . הליץ any meaning which it nowhere has, as, to excuse (Kimchi), or to come to an agreement by mediation (Schultens). So we may not make אוילים the subject (Targ., Symmachus, Jerome, Luther, “fools make sport with sin”), for one is persuaded that אוילים is equivalent to כל אחר מן האוילים (Immanuel, Meîri, and others), which would be more admissible if we had מליץ ( vid ., Proverbs 3:35), or if יליץ did not immediately follow ( vid ., Proverbs 28:1). Aquila and Theodotion rightly interpret the relation of the component parts of the sentence: ἄφρονας χλευάζει πλημμέλια ; and this translation of אשׁם also is correct is we take πλημμέλεια in the sense of a θυσία περὶ πλημμελείας (Sir. 7:31), in which the Judaeo-Hellenic actually uses it ( vid ., Schleusner's Lex .). The idea of sacrificial offering is that of expiation: it is a penitential work, it falls under the prevailing point of view of an ecclesiastical punishment, a satisfactio in a church-disciplinary sense; the forgiveness of sins is conditioned by this, (1) that the sinner either abundantly makes good by restitution the injury inflicted on another, or in some other way bears temporal punishment for it, and (2) that he willingly presents the sacrifices of rams or of sheep, the value of which the priest has to determine in its relation to the offence (by a tax-scale from 2 shekels upwards). The Torâ gives accurately the offences which are thus to be atoned for. Here, with reference to 9b, there particularly comes into view the offence against property (Lev. 5:20ff.) and against female honour (Leviticus 19:20-22). Fools fall from one offence into another, which they have to atone for by the presentation of sacrificial offerings; the sacrificial offering mocketh them ( הליץ with accus.-object , as Proverbs 19:28; Psalms 119:51), for it equally derides them on account of the self-inflicted loss, and on account of the efforts with which they must make good the effects of their frivolity and madness; while on the contrary, among men of upright character, רצון , a relation of mutual favour, prevails, which does not permit that the one give to the other an indemnity, and apply the Asham - [ אשׁם = trespass-offering] Torâ . Symmachus rightly: καὶ ἀνάμεσον εὐθέων εὐδοκία . But the lxx confuses this proverb also. Hitzig, with the Syr., follows it and translates:

The tents of the foolish are in punishment overthrown [ verfällt ];

The house of the upright is well-pleasing [ wolgefällt ].

Is not this extravagant [ ungereimt = not rhymed] in spite of the rhyme? These אהלי [tents] extracted from אוילים , and this בית [house] formed out of בין , are nothing but an aimless and tasteless flourish.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

See here, 1. How wicked people are hardened in their wickedness: they make a mock at sin. They make a laughing matter of the sins of others, making themselves and their companions merry with that for which they should mourn, and they make a light matter of their own sins, both when they are tempted to sin and when they have committed it; they call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20), turn it off with a jest, rush into sin (Jeremiah 8:6) and say they shall have peace though they go on. They care not what mischief they do by their sins, and laugh at those that tell them of it. They are advocates for sin, and are ingenious at framing excuses for it. Fools make a mock at the sin-offering (so some); those that make light of sin make light of Christ. Those are fools that make light of sin, for they make light of that which God complains of (Amos 2:13), which lay heavily upon Christ, and which they themselves will have other thoughts of shortly. 2. How good people are encouraged in their goodness: Among the righteous there is favour; if they in any thing offend, they presently repent and obtain the favour of God. They have a goodwill one to another; and among them, in their societies, there is mutual charity and compassion in cases of offences, and no mocking.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Foolish and profane men consider sin a mere trifle, to be made light of rather than mourned over. Fools mock at the sin-offering; but those that make light of sin, make light of Christ.

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Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.

Favour — They find favour both with God and men.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 14:9 Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous [there is] favour.

Ver. 9. Fools make a mock of sin.] A sport or pastime of it. [Proverbs 10:23] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 10:23"} They dance with the devil all day, and yet think to sup with Christ. But what saith the heathen historian? Nae, illi falsi sunt qui diversissimas res expectant, ignaviae vohtptatem, et praemia virtutis. In good truth they are utterly out that take their swing in sin, and yet look for the reward of virtue. No, their sweet meat must have sour sauce. "God also will laugh at their destruction, and mock when their fear cometh." [Proverbs 1:26-27] And then "they all shall be damned that had pleasure in unrighteousness," [2 Thessalonians 2:12] yea, double damned, because they jeered when they should have feared. [2 Peter 2:13]

But among the righteous there is favour.] That, though they sin of infirmity, yet forasmuch as they are sensible and sorrowful for their failings, and see them to confession, God will never see them to their confusion. Homo agnoscit, Deus ignoscit; man repenteth, and God remitteth; yea, he "compasseth his returning people with favour as with a shield," [Psalms 5:12] he re-accepts them with all sweetness through Christ, "who is the propitiation for their sins." [1 John 2:2]

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.

This is a sweet verse, and fully explained by every gracious soul in his own feeling's. Who knows the secret transactions between God and the soul on account of sin! Who shall sum up the sorrows of a wounded conscience? And who is competent to describe the sweet intercourse between Christ and the soul, when, through the operations of the Holy Ghost, all that rich and heart-rejoicing communion takes place, which lifts the soul into the very suburbs of heaven?

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 9. Fools make a mock at sin, literally, "the sacrifice mocks the fools"; for even if such ungodly people offer up burnt offerings for expiation and atonement, it is useless, it fails of its object, since it is not acceptable to God; but among the righteous there is favor, the relation among the upright being one of mutual good-fellowship and love, which prevents their becoming guilty of gross transgressions.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Proverbs 14:9

I. The various ways in which men make a mock at sin may be summed up under two heads: by their words, and by their actions. We show our scorn and contempt of a thing in our words, when we speak carelessly of it, or laugh at it, or turn it into ridicule. We show it in our actions, when we live in such a manner as proves that we have no value or regard for it. Even of the first kind of mockery, the mockery of words, few are wholly innocent; of the last kind of mockery, the mockery of deeds, all have been more or less guilty.

II. The guilt of such mockery is too plain; the folly is the folly of playing with death. It is the folly of provoking God to cut us off in the midst of our calculating wickedness. Above all is such conduct folly, because we are disabling our hearts and souls more and more for the work of repentance, without which we know and believe we can have no part in the promises of the Gospel. For nothing is more certain than that the longer a man persists in sin the harder it is to leave it off. His heart is deadened; his conscience is blunted; his soul closes itself by little and little against the impulses of the Holy Spirit.

III. If the end of the foolish mockers is so certain and terrible, let us seek wisdom,—that true wisdom which cometh from above, and which is first pure, then peaceable, full of mercy and gentleness, and of all good works. All who lack wisdom must ask it of God; no one had ever enough of it; no one has enough of it to learn its value without wishing for more.

A. W. Hare, The Alton Sermons, p. 215.

I. It is requisite that we learn of God what is the evil of sin— making His testimony in this, as in all other matters, the subject of faith. (1) The circumstance of our being an interested party incapacitates us for forming a correct judgment of the evil. (2) We are incapacitated for giving judgment in consequence of our moral sense being blunted by the continual presentation of sin before our eyes, in the conduct of others. (3) We are incompetent to form a sufficient judgment on the evil of sin, in consequence of our inability to see all its mischievous effects.

II. Consider the judgment of God on sin. (1) In His word He expresses moral disapprobation of it. (2) He threatens to avenge sin with death, spiritual and eternal. (3) He has avenged, and continues to avenge, the transgression of His law, as an earnest of His executing to the full its penalty in the world to come. (4) The death of Christ was necessary for the pardon of sin. (5) He visits with afflictions the sins even of those who have been judicially reconciled to His government and adopted into His family, through the mediation of His Son.

III. The magnitude of sin may be argued from a consideration of the dignity of Him against whom it is committed. Sin offers insult and injury to all the attributes and perfections of the Deity. (1) It denies and violates the rights of His sovereignty as the Creator. (2) It insults His goodness. (3) It insults His power. (4) It insults His wisdom, His truth, and His holiness.

W. Anderson, Discourses, p. 223.

There are different ways in which men make a mock at sin. They may mock at sin in others, or they may mock at sin in themselves.

I. A man sees another doing what he knows to be wrong, and he makes a jest of it. He is finding amusement in that which might make angels weep, and which cost the Son of God His life. No one can thus make a mock at sin without thinking very lightly of the evil of sin. The heart grows hard and callous. And the next thing is to commit the sin which we have laughed at in others.

II. Another way of "mocking at sin" consists in making light of it in ourselves. It is very fearful to think how soon we come to this pass, notwithstanding all our better purposes, and all warnings to the contrary. How many men can look back upon a time when sins that they have since committed greedily seemed almost impossible to them. They forgot the guide of their youth, they kept not the covenant of their God. They shut their ears to God's word, and their eyes to His judgments; they walked greedily in the way of ungodliness, they were "fools who made a mock at sin."

III. Observe what a verdict Solomon pronounces on persons who make a mock at sin; he calls them "fools." None but fools could be guilty of such amazing stupidity. Consider: (1) what sin is in its nature. It is the will of the creature set against the will of the Creator. (2) Consider the consequences of sin. See what an abomination sin is in God's sight by the visible punishment which He has attached to it. (3) Look at the eternal consequences of sin. Shall we make a mock at that against which the wrath of Almighty God is so fearfully declared? (4) If we would truly see what sin is, we must see it in the light of redemption. Who can measure the guilt and the power of that sin from which we could only be redeemed by the sacrifice of the Son of God? See your folly in the light of your Redeemer's tears, your Redeemer's anguish, your Redeemer's Cross; and confess as you look on His marvellous sacrifice that "fools" only can "make a mock at sin."

J. J. S. Perowne, Sermons, p. 31.

References: Proverbs 14:9.—C. Wordsworth, Old Testament Outlines, p. 157. Proverbs 14:10.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 375.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Proverbs 14:9. Fools make a mock at sin Or, according to others, Fools excuse or palliate sin. Houbigant reads the verses The dwelling of fools is guilt, of the just is favour.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Proverbs 14:9. Fools make a mock at sin.

MAN in his first creation was formed after the Divine image; and there was not in his soul the least inclination to evil of any kind. But since his fall, he is become in love with sin: sin is the very element in which he lives: and so unconscious is he of its malignity, that he makes a mock at it. Doubtless all do not carry their impiety to the same extent. Some are openly profane, and given up to all manner of wickedness; not only not being ashamed of their ways, but actually “glorying in their shame.”

We must not however restrict to persons of this description the declaration in our text. The evil that is there complained of is of far wider extent, it more or less attaches to every unconverted man. This will appear, whilst we open to you,

I. The conduct here reprobated—

Let us remember what sin is: “it is the transgression of the law [Note: 1 John 3:4.].” Whichever table of the law be broken, or whatever command be violated, the violation of it is sin: and to make light of that transgression, whether it be more or less heinous in itself, is to make a mock at sin. Bearing this in mind, we say, that this evil is committed,

1. By those who live in sin themselves—

[Passing over the drunkard, who says to his companions, “We will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to-morrow shall be as this day and much more abundant [Note: Isaiah 56:12.];” and the robber, who invites his fellows, “Come, let us lay wait for blood, that we may fill our houses with spoil [Note: Proverbs 1:11; Proverbs 1:13.];” and the unhappy prostitute, who “impudently” assaults with importunity the unwary youth [Note: Proverbs 7:6-18.]; or a variety of other characters alike notorious and abandoned;—passing by these, I say, (whom to have named is quite sufficient,) let us look to the worldling, who, though walking in a more sober way, lives altogether for himself; or look to the self-righteous, who though admired and applauded as characters of superior excellence, have no true humiliation before God, no earnest desires after a Saviour, no real delight in holy exercises, no fixedness of mind to glorify their God. What shall I say of them all? Have they any just views of sin? Have they any suitable apprehensions of the state to which they have been brought by means of sin? Do not their whole spirit and temper shew, that they think light of it? and, if it were set before them in all its malignity and ill desert, would they not say, that the representation was exaggerated, and that the person who gave them the representation was deceived? They need not utter any words, to betray the thoughts of their hearts: these are sufficiently evident by the absence of all those feelings which a just estimate of sin would create: and exactly as those who imagine that God will never punish sin, are said to “contemn God [Note: Psalms 10:13.].” so may those, who think that sin will not involve us in misery, be justly said to contemn sin, and, in heart at least, if not in act, to “make a mock at it.”]

2. By those who discountenance piety in others—

[Though a form of godliness will gain us applause, no man begins to experience the power of it without exposing himself to the censure of an ungodly world. Let a person be really broken-hearted and contrite, as every sinner ought to be; let him be seeking the Lord Jesus Christ with his whole heart; let him turn his back upon the vanities of the world, and separate himself from the society of those who would ensnare his soul; let him give himself to reading the holy Scriptures, to devout meditation, to fervent prayer, to a diligent use of all the appointed ordinances of religion; let him join himself to the Lord’s people, and choose the excellent of the earth for his companions; let him, in a word, be in earnest in fleeing from the wrath to come, and in laying hold on eternal life; let him do this, and his nearest friends will instantly dissuade him from such a course: they will represent to him the inexpediency of such extravagant measures; they will complain of him as enthusiastic and righteous over-much. They will impute the change that has taken place in him to weakness, or vanity, or perhaps to hypocrisy and a desire of human estimation. Now then I ask, whence would such a disapprobation of his ways arise? Are they not such ways as are marked out by God? Are they not the very footsteps of the flock who have gone before him? Is not this course precisely such as common sense would dictate, and such as all mankind would approve, if the bodily life were in danger? Who would complain of earnestness in a shipwrecked mariner? Who would deride the cries and fears and efforts of a person endeavouring to escape from a house on fire? Yet in matters relating to the soul and to eternity, no sooner is the importance of salvation felt, and manifested, as it ought to be, than all who have any influence endeavour to quiet the fears, and to discourage the exertions, of the awakened soul. Could this be, if sin were viewed by them as God views it? No: the persons who thus discountenance fervent piety, declare, that they see no occasion for it; that we may very well be saved without it; and that sin has no such terrors but that a moderate degree of attention will not suffice to escape from its threatened dangers. What is this, but to “make a mock at sin?”]

That such conduct may appear in its true light, I proceed to shew,

II. The folly of it—

However much we make a mock at sin,

1. We cannot alter the nature of it—

[Sin is “that abominable thing which God hates [Note: Jeremiah 44:4.]:” he cannot look upon it, or on those who commit it, without the utmost abhorrence [Note: Habakkuk 1:13.]. It is, whether we will believe it or not, “exceeding sinful [Note: Romans 7:13.].” Now we are told by the prophet, that many will “call evil good, and good evil; and will put darkness for light, and light for darkness; bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter [Note: Isaiah 5:20.].” But if the whole universe should do this, would they alter the essential qualities of these things? Would darkness cease to be darkness, and serve all the purposes of light? or would bitter change its properties to sweetness? So, whatever construction men may put upon sin, and however they may palliate its enormity, it will ever remain immutably the same; a defiling, debasing, damning evil; more to be dreaded than death itself. We may call it innocent; but it will “bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder [Note: Proverbs 23:32.].” We may roll it as a sweet morsel “under our tongue; but it will be the gall of asps within us [Note: Job 20:12-14.].”]

2. We cannot avert its consequences—

[God has said, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God [Note: Psalms 9:17.].” Now we may say to sinners, as the serpent did to Eve, “Ye shall not surely die [Note: Genesis 3:4.]:” but we can never separate the penalty from the offence. We may represent the transgression, whatever it may be, as small; and may expatiate upon the goodness of God, and the impossibility of his visiting such an offence with such a tremendous punishment: but we shall not prevail on him to rescind his decree, or to reverse his sentence. He has said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die [Note: Ezekiel 18:20.]:” and die it shall, even “the second death, in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone:” nor if the whole universe should combine their efforts to avert the sentence, should they ever prevail in any single instance [Note: Proverbs 11:21.]. “The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men [Note: Romans 1:18.]:” and sooner shall heaven and earth pass away, than one impenitent transgressor escape. How great then must be the folly of making a mock at sin! If we could prevail on God to accord with our views, and to concede that sin should pass unpunished, we might have some plea for our conduct: but if the effect of our representations be only to deceive our own souls, and to rivet the chains with which sin and Satan have already bound us, we must confess that Solomon’s views of such conduct are just, and that they are “fools” who “make a mock at sin.”]

To all of you then I would, in conclusion, say,

1. Make not light of sin yourselves—

[Your souls, your immortal souls, are at stake. Were the consequences of your error only temporary, we might leave you to enjoy your own delusions: but they are eternal. There is no repentance in the grave. “As the tree falls, so it will lie.” If you die under the guilt of sin, your doom is irreversible, your misery everlasting. How do millions that are now in the eternal world curse their folly for making light of sin, in direct opposition to all that God had spoken in his word respecting it! and in what accents would they speak, if they could now have access to you to warn you! I pray you then be wise in time; and seek without delay to obtain “the forgiveness of your sins through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus [Note: Colossians 1:14.]” — — —]

2. Regard not the scoffs of those who do—

[Suppose it desirable to possess the good opinion of the world: yet surely to purchase it at the expense of your immortal soul is to pay too high a price for it: it is but for a moment at all events: and though it is valuable so far as it may give you an influence over them for their good, yet it cannot for one moment be put in competition with the testimony of a good conscience, and the approbation of your God. You are taught to expect, that if you will not countenance the world in their ways, they will do all they can to discountenance you in yours. You see that this has been the case from the beginning: from the time of Abel to this hour, “they who have been born after the flesh have persecuted those who are born of the Spirit [Note: Galatians 4:29.]:” and not even the Lord Jesus Christ himself could escape their reproaches. “If then they called the Master of the house Beelzebub,” wonder not if his servants also be designated by reproachful names [Note: Matthew 10:25.]. If these things come upon you for righteousness sake, receive them as a token for good [Note: Luke 21:13. “Unto you: not against you.”], and bless God that you are “counted worthy to endure them [Note: Acts 5:41.].” God permits these things as trials of your faith and love; and if they at any time appear grievous to you, then think of the plaudit of your Judge, and how speedily the very people who now condemn you will themselves “awake to shame and everlasting contempt [Note: Daniel 12:2.],” and will be among the foremost to proclaim your praise [Note: Wisd. 5:1–6.]. “Be faithful unto death; and God will give you a crown of life.”]

3. Endeavour so to walk, that those who mock at sin may have no occasion given them to mock at righteousness also—

[Whilst you in departing from evil “condemn the world [Note: Hebrews 11:7.],” you may be well assured that they will be glad enough to find occasion against you, and to condemn religion on your account. Endeavour then to “walk wisely before God in a perfect way [Note: Psalms 101:2.].” Let the world “have no fault to find in you, except concerning the law of your God [Note: Daniel 6:5.].” Let not your regard for the duties of the first table lead you to neglect those of the second; but be careful to fulfil the duty of your place and station towards man, as well as that which consists in the more immediate service of your God: and be careful to avoid all needless singularities, which in the sight of God make you neither better nor worse. As for preventing the world from taking offence, that is impossible. Darkness must of necessity “hate the light:” but take care that the light be that which proceeds from God, and not from any “sparks of your own kindling.” “Walk in wisdom towards them that are without [Note: Colossians 4:5.]:” “give them no occasion to speak reproachfully [Note: 1 Timothy 5:14.]:” but so cause “your light to shine before them, that they may be led to glorify your heavenly Father.” Thus, though you should not “win them by your good conversation,” you may at least hope “to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men [Note: 1 Peter 2:15.];” and constrain them, in spite of all their mocking, to confess, that “the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour [Note: Proverbs 12:26.].”]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture



Proverbs 14:9.

The wisdom of this Book of Proverbs is not simply intellectual, but it has its roots in reverence and obedience to God, and for its accompaniment, righteousness. The wise man is the good man, and the good man is the godly man. And as is wisdom, so its opposite, folly, is not only intellectual feebleness-the bad man is a fool, and the godless is a bad man. The greatest amount of brain-power cultivated to the highest degree does not make a man wise, and about many a student and thinker God pronounces the sentence ‘Thou fool!’

That does not mean that all sin is ignorance, as we sometimes hear it said with a great show of tolerant profundity. There is some ignorance in all sin, but the essence of sin is the aversion of the will from a law and from a Person, not the defect of the understanding. So far from all sin being but ignorance, and therefore blameless, there is no sin without knowledge, and the measure of ignorance is the measure of blamelessness; unless the ignorance be itself, as it often is, criminal. Ignorance is one thing, folly is another.

One more remark by way of introduction must be made on the language of our text. The margin of the Revised Version correctly turns it completely round, and for ‘the foolish make a mock at guilt,’ would read, ‘guilt mocketh at the foolish.’ In the original the verb in our text is in the singular, and the only singular noun to go with it is ‘guilt.’ The thought then here is, that sin tempts men into its clutches, and then gibes and taunts them. It is a solemn and painful subject, but perhaps this text rightly pondered may help to save some of us from hearing the mocking laugh which echoes through the empty chambers of many an empty soul.

I. Sin mocks us by its broken promises.

The object immediately sought by any wrong act may be attained. In sins of sense, the appetite is gratified; in other sins, the desire that urged to them attains its end. But what then? The temptation lay in the imagination that, the wrong thing being done, an inward good would result, and it does not; for even if the immediate object be secured, other results, all unforeseen, force themselves on us which spoil the hoped for good. The sickle cuts down tares as well as wheat, and the reaper’s hands are filled with poisonous growths as well as with corn. There is a revulsion of feeling from the thing that before the sin was done attracted. The hideous story of the sin of David’s son, Amnon, puts in ugliest shape the universal experience of men who are tempted to sin and are victims of the revulsion that follows-He ‘hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her.’ Conscience, which was overpowered and unheard amid the loud cries of desire, speaks. We find out the narrow limits of satisfaction. The satisfied appetite has no further driving power, but lies down to sleep off its debauch, and ceases to be a factor for the time. Inward discord, the schism between duty and inclination, sets up strife in the very sanctuary of the soul. We are dimly conscious of the evil done as robbing us of power to do right. We cannot pray, and would be glad to forget God. And a self thus racked, impoverished, and weakened, is what a man gains by the sin that promised him so much and hid so much from him.

Or if these consequences are in any measure silenced and stifled, a still more melancholy mockery betrays him, in the continuance of the illusion that he is happy and all is well, when all the while he is driving headlong to destruction. Many a man orders his life so that it is like a ship that sails with huzzas and bedizened with flags while a favouring breeze fills its sails, but comes back to port battered and all but waterlogged, with its canvas ‘lean, rent, and beggared by the strumpet wind.’ It is always a mistake to try to buy happiness by doing wrong. The price is rigorously demanded, but the quid pro quo is not given, or if it seems to be so, there is something else given too, which takes all the savour out of the composite whole. The ‘Folly’ of the earlier half of this book woos men by her sweet invitations, and promises the sweetness of stolen waters and the pleasantness of bread eaten in secret, but she hides the fact, which the listener to her seducing voice has to find out for himself after he has drunk of the stolen waters and tasted the maddening pleasantness of her bread eaten in secret, that ‘her guests are in the depths of Sheol.’ The temptations that seek to win us to do wrong and dazzle us by fair visions are but ‘juggling fiends that keep the word of promise to the ear, and break it to the hope.’

II. Sin mocks fools by making them its slaves.

There is not only a revulsion of feeling from the evil thing done that was so tempting before, but there is a dreadful change in the voice of the temptress. Before her victim had done the sin, she whispered hints of how little a thing it was. ‘Don’t make such a mountain of a molehill. It is a very small matter. You can easily give it up when you like.’ But when the deed is done, then her mocking laugh rings out, ‘I have got you now and you cannot get away.’ The prey is seduced into the trap by a carefully prepared bait, and as soon as its hesitating foot steps on to the slippery floor, down falls the door and escape is impossible, We are tempted to sin by the delusion that we are shaking off restraints that fetter our manhood, and that it is spirited to do as we like, and as soon as we have sinned we discover that we were pleasing not ourselves but a taskmaster, and that while the voice said, ‘Show yourself a man, beyond these petty, old-fashioned maxims’; the meaning of it was, ‘Become my slave.’

Sin grows in accordance with an awful necessity, so that it is never in a sinner’s power to promise himself ‘It is only this one time that I will do the wrong thing. Let me have one lapse and I will abjure the evil for ever after.’ We have to reckon with the tremendous power of habit, and to bethink ourselves that a man may never commit a given sin, but that if he has committed it once, it is all but impossible that he will stop there. The incline is too slippery and the ice too smooth to risk a foot on it. Habit dominates, outward circumstances press, there springs up a need for repeating the draught, and for its being more highly spiced. Sin begets sin as fast as the green flies which infest rose-bushes. One has heard of slavers on the African coast speaking negroes fair, and tempting them on board by wonderful promises, but once the poor creatures are in the ship, then on with the hatches and, if need be, the chains.

III. Sin mocks fools by unforeseen consequences.

These are carefully concealed or madly disregarded, while we are in the stage of merely being tempted, but when we have done the evil, they are unmasked, like a battery against a detachment that has been trapped. The previous denial that anything will come of the sin, and the subsequent proclamation that this ugly issue has come of it, are both parts of sin’s mockery, and one knows not which is the more fiendish, the laugh with which she promises impunity or that with which she tells of the certainty of retribution. We may be mocked, but ‘God is not mocked. Whatever a man soweth, that’-and not some other growth-’shall he also reap.’ We dwell in an all-related order of things, in which no act but has its appropriate consequences, and in which it is only fools who say to themselves, ‘I did not think it would matter much.’ Each act of ours is at once sowing and reaping; a sowing, inasmuch as it sets in motion a train the issues of which may not be realised by us till the act has long been forgotten; a reaping, inasmuch as what we are and do to-day is the product of what we were and did in a forgotten past. We are what we are, because we were long ago what we were. As in these composite photographs, which are produced by laying one individual likeness on another, our present selves have our past selves preserved in them. We do not need to bring in a divine Judge into human life in order to be sure that, by the play of the natural laws of cause and effect, ‘every transgression and disobedience receives its just recompense of reward.’ Given the world as it is, and the continuous identity of a man, and you have all that is needed for an Iliad of woes flowing from every life that makes terms with sin. If we gather into one dismal pile the weakening of power for good, the strengthening of impulses to evil, the inward poverty, the unrest, the gnawings of conscience or its silence, the slavery under evil often loathed even while it is being obeyed, the dreary sense of inability to mend oneself, and often the wreck of outward life which dog our sins like sleuth-hounds, surely we shall not need to imagine a future tribunal in order to be sure that sin is a murderess, or to hear her laugh as she mocks her helpless victims.

But as surely as there are in this present world experiences which must be regarded as consequences of sin, so surely do they all assume a more dreadful character and take on the office of prophets of a future. If man lives beyond the grave, there is nothing to suggest that he will there put off character as he puts off the bodily life. He will be there what he has made himself here. Only he will be so more intensely, more completely. The judgments of earth foretell and foreshadow a judgment beyond earth.

There is but one more word that I would say, and it is this. Jesus has come to set the captives of sin free from its mockery, its tyranny, its worst consequences. He breaks the power of past evil to domineer over us. He gives us a new life within, which has no heritage of evil to pervert it, no memories of evil to discourage it, no bias towards evil to lead it astray. As for the sins that we have done, He is ready to forgive, to seal to us God’s forgiveness, and to take from our own self-condemnation all its bitterness and much of its hopelessness. For the past, His blood has taken away its guilt and power. For the future it sets us free from the mockery of our sin, and assures us of a future which will not be weakened or pained by remembrances of a sinful past. Sin mocks at fools, but they who have Christ for their Redeemer, their Righteousness, and their Life can smile at her impotent rage, and mock at her and her impotent attempts to terrify them and assert her lost power with vain threats.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Fools, wicked men, as appears from their opposition to the righteous in the next clause,

make a mock at sin; please and support themselves with their own and other men’s sins, which is a high offence and provocation to God and men. Or, as others render it, excuse or cover sin; sin against God or men, and then justify or extenuate their sins, which is to double the injury. Possibly this clause may be thus rendered, Sin deludes or makes a mock of fools, or sinners, i.e. exposeth them to shame and contempt, which is fitly opposed to favour in the next clause. And thus two ancient and learned interpreters, Aquila and Theodotion, render it. And this suits exactly with the Hebrew words, whereas in the other translation the noun and verb governed by it are of diverse numbers, which, though sometimes it be allowed, yet is not to be supposed without necessity. But this I submit to the learned and judicious.

Among the righteous, who are so far from making a mock of sin, or excusing it, that they do not allow themselves to commit it,

there is favour; they find favour both with God and men, as this very word thus generally expressed is used, Proverbs 11:27, because they make conscience of ordering their lives so that they offend neither God nor men; or if they offend either, they heartily repent of it; so far are they from excusing it, or pleasing themselves with it. Or, there is good will, as the word properly and usually is taken; they have a real love, and are ready to do all offices of kindness one to another, and therefore neither sin against others, nor rejoice in the sins of others.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

9. Fools make a mock at sin — As the verb in the original is singular, not agreeing with אולים, (evilim,) fools, as its subject, it is somewhat probable that the sentence should be transposed, making אשׁם, (asham,) guilt, or sin offering, the subject. Stuart renders, “sin offering mocks fools;” (wicked men;) mocks their hopes, because not accepted. The word asham is frequently used for sin offering, or trespass offering. Comp. 1 Samuel 6:3; 2 Kings 12:17; Isaiah 55:10; Ezekiel 40:39, and many other places. Other critics, transposing the sentence as above, retain the word sin; thus: Sin makes a mock of fools; that is, deludes them, exposes them to shame and contempt, which is fitly opposed to the favour or good will of the next clause; there are, however, some great names for the old rendering, perhaps regarding evilim as the plural of intensity. The matter may be considered as not entirely settled, but with the preponderance in favour of the transposition. Zockler reads, “Sacrifice maketh sport,” etc.; Conant, “Guilt makes a mock;” Miller, “Sin makes a mock at fools.” Compare Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 10:23; Proverbs 26:18-19; Judges 1:18.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 14:9. Fools make a mock at sin — Wicked men, here meant by fools, please and divert themselves with their own and other men’s sins, which is a high offence to God and all good men. Or, as others render the clause, excuse, or cover sin; they sin against God or men, and then justify or extenuate their sins, which is to double the iniquity. Possibly the Hebrew of this clause, אולים יליצ אשׁם, may be rendered, Sin deludes, or makes a mock of, fools, or sinners; that is, exposes them to shame and contempt, which is fitly opposed to favour, in the next clause. This translation suits exactly with the Hebrew words, and is adopted by two ancient and learned interpreters, Aquila and Theodotion. But among the righteous — Who are so far from making a mock at sin, or excusing it, that they do not allow themselves to commit it; there is favour — They find favour with God and men, because they make conscience of ordering their lives so that they may offend neither. Or, there is good-will, as the word רצן is properly and usually understood: they have a real love to one another, and are ready to perform to each other all offices of kindness; and therefore they neither willingly sin against others, nor rejoice in the sins of others.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Sin. Chap. x. 23. Hebrew, "excuse sin," (Calmet) or "mock at sin," (Haydock) committed by others. (Menochius) --- Grace, or good-will. They are agreeable to all. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

make a mock. The verb is singular, and probably the plural "fools" means "A great fool makes a mock", &c.

sin = guilt. The proper name for the trespass offering. Hebrew. "asham (App-44.) Illustrations: the antediluvians (Luke 17:26, Luke 17:27; 1 Peter 3:20); Abner (2 Samuel 2:14-17); Haman (Esther 3:13-15. Esther 29:2); the Jews (Isaiah 22:13).

the righteous = upright ones.

favour. Those who offer the trespass offering, experience the Divine favour.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.

Fools make a mock at sin - (Proverbs 10:23; Proverbs 2:14; Isaiah 3:9.) The Hebrew my be also translated, 'sin (i:e., when it brings its punishment) makes a mock at fools,' even as they mock at sin.

But among the righteous there is favour - the favour of God and of all good men, inasmuch as they do not, mock at sin, but speak what is conformable to the will of God. To complete the antithesis, the sense must be supplied, fools make a mock at sin (and so incur the wrath of God); but (the righteous regard sin as a serious offence, and one to he shunned; and therefore) among the righteous there is the favour of God.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(9) Fools make a mock at sin.—Rather, perhaps, sin mocks fools (they miss the gratification they expected from it); or, the sin-offering mocks them. God does not accept it, and so they have the trouble and cost of offering it for nothing; “but among the upright there is favour.” God is well pleased with them.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.
1:22; 10:23; 26:18,19; 30:20; Job 15:16; 34:7-9; Jude 1:18
3:4; 8:35; 12:2; 13:15; Romans 14:17,18

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

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